The album follows on from his critically acclaimed 2019 Nigel Stonier-produced album Whiskey and Orchids.
Owens is the archetypal ‘working’ musician, not known for standing still. He co-founded the hugely successful Noah & The Whale, touring the world and playing major festivals to thousands. More recently he has been collaborating with the new crop of UK Americana trailblazers such as Elles Bailey and Robert Vincent (who both grace this record), as well as playing in Thea Gilmore’s live band on tour, and on her Number 1 album, Small World Turning.
Recorded at Manchester’s Airtight Studios and Mizpah Studio in Bath, Scorched Earth sees Owens pushing in new directions, both lyrically and sonically, as he takes the production reins on his latest release:
“I began chasing new instruments and sounds that I’d very much distrusted in the past, to see if I could find a use for them. In doing so bass organ pedals, synthesisers, crazy stomp boxes, synthetic drums, and even Turntables ended up on the album, and I’ve now fallen in love with all of them.”
The result is an album more aurally dynamic than its acoustic-and-piano-led predecessor, and whilst his signature Neil Young-esque harmonica is still ever present, a 60’s Gretsch electric is now often favoured to his beloved 60’s Gibson Dove acoustic.
It is Owens’ song-writing that stands front and centre. Scorched Earth engages across a breadth of subject matter, lyrically feeling very much rooted in current times.
Another Song About The Devil sees Lucifer himself, having to pull over to the side of the road, so disillusioned that the human race seems intent on doing his job better than he can. MacCurtain Street is a personal take on homelessness on the streets of Cork, whilst Last Day of the Festival opens with a collapsed, glitter-clad nymph, betrayed by the hollow promise of anticipation, coming down from the weekend’s highs.
A veteran of touring (opener Cargo For The Road was originally written on a Noah tour bus from Seattle to Fargo), Owens plays up to 300 shows a year, hitting 60 festivals over the last two years including Glastonbury, Wilderness, Doolin Folk Festival and Purbeck Folk. The new album will be on tour – Government permitting!
Scorched Earth will be available digitally worldwide and CDs distributed exclusively via Bandcamp (mattowens.bandcamp.com) and select record stores.
1. Cargo For the Road
2. Cactus Flowers
3. Scorched Earth
4. Strip it Back
5. Another Song about the Devil
6. Heal Up Alright
7. Radio King
8. MacCurtain St
9. I Will Be There
10. Hungover in New York
11. When the Stars Align
12. Last Day of the Festival